One Buffalo resident packs 1,800 gifts for needy children around the world through Operation Christmas Child
Buffalo resident Ida Sanger remembers the day in 2006 when she heard a radio announcement explain she could make a difference in a child's life half way across the world. From that moment on, Sanger has been an unstoppable local force in spreading kindness through the giving of simple gifts. This year, she will have packed more than 1,800 shoeboxes full of gifts to needy children through Operation Christmas Child.
Operation Christmas Child, the world's largest Christmas project of it's kind, gives individuals, families, churches and groups the opportunity to pack empty shoeboxes with simple items like toys, school supplies and hygiene items. These gifts then are delivered and placed into the hands of some of the neediest children around the world, most of whom have never received a gift before.
"Throughout the years, I have tried to double the amount of shoeboxes I pack every year," Sanger said. She has packed more than 1,800 gift-filled shoeboxes since she began six years ago and packed more than 700 last year alone.
Having seen the sorrow and poverty that exists in countries that are under-resourced and suffering due to disaster, war, terror, disease and famine, Sanger is driven to do what she can to help.
"God has allowed me opportunities to see first-hand the poverty that people of all ages in poor, impoverished countries live in on a daily basis: unsafe drinking water, no sewage systems or working toilets, dilapidated houses, hungry parents, children, orphans and animals," Sanger said.
"My favorite item to include in the shoeboxes are a pair of shoes," she added. "It breaks my heart to see pictures of children barefoot in countries where the roads are often rough and dirty, and where diseases are easily contracted. The children are just so thankful for anything."
Over the past 20 years, Operation Christmas Child has sent more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in 100-plus countries around the world. Sanger and the many participants in the Buffalo area have been an integral part of this global effort.
With holiday supplies already covering the store shelves, local individuals, families, churches and groups are encouraged to make Christmas a reality for needy kids around the world by filling shoeboxes.
Buffalo area drop-off sites are ramping up to collect gift-filled shoeboxes during National Collection Week (Nov. 18-25). At these local collection sites in the Buffalo area, anyone can drop off a gift-filled shoebox to send to a child overseas. Then using whatever means necessary - trucks, trains, boats, bikes and even elephants - the shoebox gifts will be delivered to children worldwide.
For many children, the shoebox gift will be the first gift they have ever received.
Buffalo-area collection sites:
•First Assembly of God
9750 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls
Operating hours: Monday, Nov 18, through Friday, Nov. 22: 6-8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 23, 9 a.m. to noon; Sunday, Nov. 24, from noon until 2 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 25, 4-5:30 p.m.
•Wesleyan Church of Orchard Park
7295 Ellicott Road, Orchard Park
Operating hours: Monday, Nov. 18, through Friday, Nov. 22, 4-6 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m. to noon; Sunday, Nov. 24, noon until 2 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Call 1-800-567-8580 for additional information on these local Buffalo drop-off sites.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 518-437-0690 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.
While National Collection Week for gift-filled shoeboxes is Nov. 18-25, shoebox gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan's Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C. Participants can also build a box through an online tool offering a personalized and convenient way to send a gift to a child in one of the hardest-to-reach countries.